Summer safety is not an afterthought

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Gary Holliday
  • 190th ARW Safety Office
The 2011 fatality statistics reported by the Air Force Safety Center already include a significant number of recreational, motorcycle, and motor vehicle fatalities. Each of the Airmen in these accidents have family members and friends whose lives have been permanently altered.

In 2011, only one 190th member has been involved in a motorcycle mishap, and fortunately expects to make a full recovery from broken bones and serious road-rash. Even one of this type of statistic is one too many. We encourage all riders to be especially alert and cautious, use defensive driving practices on the road, and to take advantage of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) courses offered here at Forbes. The MSF certification is required for driving a motorcycle on any DoD facility.

While the 190th has not experienced an on or off duty fatality since 2008, an unacceptable trend is a rise in both on-duty and off-duty mishaps. We all may have heard reoccurring topics of discussion including: escalated deployment tempo, doing more with less, never enough time, or, find a way to get it done; all which may ultimately be distracting us from safe practices.

Injuries reported to the 190th Safety Office during the last year included 7 slips, trips and falls, including strains, sprains, or breaks; 2 injuries while moving large objects; 2 lacerations while using hand or power tools; and 9 injuries while performing physical training. These mishaps totaled over 100 days of restricted duty for our members, which can potentially lead to a reduction in mission effectiveness. Recently, and largely attributed to foot, knee, and shoulder injuries, 15 members are on medical profile and not releasable for full duty.

Another dangerous pattern is the increasing number of DUIs in the 190th. Since 2008, DUIs have doubled to 8 DUIs reported in 2010. While there are fewer DUIs reported thus far in 2011, we must all take responsibility to protect the lives of our members and others on the road and bring this number to zero! Remember to plan ahead, have a designated driver, phone 861-HOME for a cab ride, and just plain drink responsibly. Practice defensive driving at all times. Vehicle mishaps are often as close as right outside the main gate. And remember, texting while driving is against the law!

There is no simple or quick on/off switch for a safe mindset. If you practice unsafe habits off-base there is an increased risk that this mindset will take place on-base as well, and that is a culture that does not promote mission readiness.

A safety mindset should always be at the forefront of your planning and activities. Simple do's and don'ts include:
- Do identify and resolve safety discrepancies at the earliest possible stage
- Don't overlook what you know is unsafe; speaking up may save a life
- Don't use the wrong tool for the job
- Don't disregard personal protective equipment or tech data just to get the job done quicker
- Do stretch and warm-up before PT
- Don't overexert yourself during PT
- Don't be overaggressive during group sports.

As we progress through the 2011 101 Critical Days of Summer (Memorial Day through Labor Day holidays) let's focus on how we can apply safety to the Air Force core values. Integrity First - do the right thing all the time, not just when someone is watching. Service Before Self - let's make sure we are all mission ready, not only for the 190th, but also for our family and friends. Excellence In All We Do - lead correctly by example, no risky shortcuts.

Don't let shortsighted judgment or poor planning lead to an avoidable mishap. Let's all make safety a way of life and remember: Safety is not an afterthought.